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Desolation Road [Paperback]

Ian McDonald
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 July 2009
It all began thirty years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality from Adam Black's Wonderful Travelling Chautauqua and Educational ‘Stravaganza (complete with its very own captive angel) to the Astounding Tatterdemalion Air Bazaar. Its inhabitants ranged from Dr. Alimantando, the town’s founder and resident genius, to the Babooshka, a barren grandmother who just wants her own child—grown in a fruit jar; from Rajendra Das, mechanical hobo who has a mystical way with machines to the Gallacelli brothers, identical triplets who fell in love with—and married—the same woman.


Product details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; Original edition (28 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027447
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 15.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,232,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McDonald was born in Manchester in 1960. His family moved to Northern Ireland in 1965. He now lives in Belfast and works in TV production. The author of many previous novels, including the groundbreaking Chaga books set in Africa, Ian McDonald has long been at the cutting edge of SF. RIVER OF GODS won the BSFA award in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little known classic Sci-fi 4 Nov 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Desolation Road a science fiction set on Mars centers on the town of the title from its founding by a lone scientist trying to unravel the mysteries of time travel to its eventual destruction decades later.
The story is told through the lives of the towns inhabitants passing from one generation to the next.
Highlights include Adam Blacks Educational Extravagansa (with a genuine angel)The arrival of the next prophet, a murder trial, a revoultion, the greatest snooker player who has ever lived and of course the 1st manned time trip in history.
The book is full of wonderful quirks: people come of age at Ten (the martian year is twice ours so in Earth terms they are Twenty), Events always happen at curious times of the day (Thirteen minutes of Thirteen) Worship of the machine has become fused with our religions creating something that is both familiar and alien, The very names of the characters instantly conjure a mental image of them.
The fact the story passes from one generation to the next really gives a sense of continuity to the whole, you really feel as though you KNOW these families and you really can empathise with (or despise)the characters.
I cannot reccomned this book highly enough!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Douglas Adams meets Tom Robbins 2 July 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Zany combinations of a genetically rewired humanity,when the strange drift of fate and desire brings togheter fascinating and cryptic personae in a hyperrealistic martian desert.A masterpiece of the imagination.I'm savouring it slowly,to appreciate the melancholic,Sheckleyan twang of McDonald's intriguing writing. If you want to read a VERY good modern S.F. book on Mars,read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magical ! 22 Jan 2006
Format:Paperback
This book is marvellous, wierd, odd & at times poetic. Like the best of Ray Bradbury's small town Americana stories worked up into a novel, dusted with cyberpunk and moved to a strange alternative Edgar Rice Burrows Mars.
An impressive book anyway, doubly so when Ares Express is added into the universe, and even more so considering how different (as straight down the line SF) his previous two books, Chagga & Kirinya, are - but equally you can see where River of Gods came from (but only just!)
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow better than i expected 25 April 2003
Format:Paperback
Well what can i say Mcdonald Crafts a fine Story. He weaves many threads and manages to Somehow to pull them all together again. You can see some plotlines coming but hell its a great book and a fantastic read.
The Blurb lets it down. If you like Sci-Fi and weird mythos than this is the book for you!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I hate to dissent from the other 5-star reviews for this book, but this book is defintely not of the same calibre as McDonald's later work. I loved River of Gods, Cyberabad Days and The Dervish House. Half-way through this book I was looking to see how long was left, and only managed a further 100 pages before deciding it wasn't worth it. There is too much good sci-fi out there to waste time punishing yourself.

McDonald creates a world full of characters, cities and conflicts, and links them in a story which is part sci-fi, space opera, soap opera, frontier legend, fantasy, Vietnam-esque war story and spaghetti Western. The book is also chock-full of different concepts, anyone of which would make a good premise for book by themselves. The problem is that this is a compilation of short stories trying to be an epic.

It feels like IMcD had a ton of ideas for different characters and has just linked them by making them all come from this single village, but because so little time is spent on any of the characters it is impossible to understand them in anything other than their original concept, ie: "those are the triplets", "that's the lady who likes planes", etc. These concepts aren't really expanded on throughout the book, and there is very little character development. When some of the characters undergo dramatic changes, it is hard to keep track of what is going on, because you have no idea who they were before. Some characters are only introduced as the child or grandchild of another main character, and you have no idea what they're about, but are expected to follow their stories too. Because there are so many characters it is difficult to keep track of who is who as well, on top of all of this.
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